Evolving DEED's strategy in the CareerForce system to grow opportunity
August 4, 2021
Minnesota's CareerForce system, a network of partners designed to help Minnesotans find jobs, is essential to our economic recovery from the pandemic. DEED plays an important role in this system, and we're committed to evolving our efforts to better connect Minnesotans with family-sustaining work – and help employers find the workers they need to grow and thrive.
The pandemic highlighted – and in many cases accelerated – disparities that existed long before COVID-19, which workforce development leaders in the state, like DEED, need to address.
Guiding our work is the One Minnesota strategic plan, which provides vision for all state agencies to address these critical issues and others. Under that plan, DEED has three main goals by the end of 2022:
• Shrinking unemployment disparities between white and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Minnesotans by 50%.
• Creating jobs where they are needed most through recovering all net jobs lost for Minnesota workers, particularly in Greater Minnesota and urban pockets of high unemployment.
• Strengthening our workforce by achieving a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels for the number of adults earning a family-sustaining income after completing a state supported program, including full recoveries for women, BIPOC Minnesotans, residents of Greater Minnesota, and adults with disabilities.
It helps to show just how stark the disparities in our economy are. The chart below is just one example. It shows the fixed participation unemployment rate, a measurement of the unemployment rate combined with the decline in labor force participation for three different ethnic groups. As a measurement for those who've lost their jobs or who've given up searching altogether, it's a vivid reminder of the racial disparities our department is focused on addressing in our CareerForce system.
Evolving our service model
To better serve Minnesotans, we need to evolve our approach to serving job seekers.
Like every organization, slowing the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic meant that DEED had to find innovative ways to serve our customers. It forced us to re-think nearly all of our business processes and service assumptions.
Moving forward, our experience has provided an unprecedented opportunity to modernize service delivery models for greater impact. We've learned that bringing services to where people are – online or out in the community in libraries, community centers and other places people already go – can be far more successful.
The three principles that will guide our evolution are:
• Equity: Centering everything we do around equity
• Proactivity: Taking a proactive stance – meeting people where they are
• Flexibility: Embracing the opportunity to try new things and learn as we go
One example of these principles in action is our Good Jobs Now campaign, a proactive call center effort to reach out to thousands of Minnesotans every week who need our help most. Since March, DEED staff have called more than 60,000 Minnesotans receiving unemployment benefits, and in every conversation we've shared the CareerForce resources to help them with their job search. This footprint is more than double the impact we had in previous service models, where we relied far more on waiting for customers to come to us.
You'll see changes in how CareerForce provides services in the coming weeks and months related to MinnesotaWorks.net, our Unemployment Insurance website and services at our locations. Services will continue to adapt to the needs of Minnesotans looking for work and employers looking for workers throughout 2021 and 2022. Among the changes:
• We'll be replacing MinnesotaWorks.net with a modern, accessible, mobile-friendly labor exchange and account management platform.
• We'll be revamping our Unemployment Insurance website to make it more accessible and mobile friendly – and to better integrate the many career exploration and job search resources on CareerForceMN.com.
• We're working with our partners to makes changes at CareerForce locations, as we align our physical footprint with the needs of Minnesotans. Many locations have already reopened for in-person services.
• We're returning some staff to our 16 comprehensive CareerForce Centers this month for face-to-face assistance by appointment only. We know some job seekers face physical or technical barriers to remote service, and we are committed to landing a hybrid model that best serves the needs of the largest number of job seekers we can help.
• You'll start to see our CareerForce team show up in person in the community more and more. Our Vocational Rehabilitation Services team is doing more in-home and in-community counseling. Our State Services for the Blind team has resumed providing in-home and in-community services where appropriate. And our Job Service team will increasingly engage customers in community centers, libraries, tribal lands, and wherever else our customers are easiest to reach. We need to be intentional and proactive if we're doing to best serve Minnesota.
I'm excited about how CareerForce is evolving. We will work in partnership with workforce development organizations across the state to meet the needs of Minnesotans now. And we'll continue to share updates in this blog and elsewhere as we partner with others to meet this moment for Minnesota.
Together, we'll help rebuild a Minnesota economy that works for everyone.